When the Cows Come Home

Chapter 3

It really hadn't come into mind when he first become interested in his current profession. He used to watch all those cop and robber shows as a child and one way or another, it left the wrong kind of impression on him. Chase the bad guy, and put him behind bars. Oh, and get the girl.

That was the basic principle he'd brought himself up to believe, as if that were the way it really worked. The only thing is, his naive childish mind forgot the details; although, the latter of those wasn't quite far from his current situation.

There were many more things that filled in the empty gaps. There was research and permits and searching for evidence, fingerprints, and witnesses and certain divisions that take care of certain cases, and blah blah blah.

The young officer sighed as he absentmindedly typed away on his computer. To the left of his keyboard lay a stack of files in a not-so organized manner. The department had recently taken a liking to the new technologies now available and were filling the databases with digital files of all past cases for easier accessing. The trouble was, someone had to do all the work. Namely, Takagi.

"Having fun are we?" Takagi nearly jumped at the sudden voice behind him. He whirled around to face the owner of the feminine voice.

"S-S-S-Satou-san!"

She giggled at the startled look on his face. "Oh, I'm sorry. Were you lost in thought?"

Takagi sweat-dropped.

"This isn't exactly the most entertaining of duties, you know." He eyed the disorganized mess of paper again and gave a disgusted look.

"Well, then it's a good thing I came. If you were having fun I would have let you be." She pulled up a chair and sat next to him. "I don't have anything else to do at the moment anyways." She rested her chin in her hands.

Takagi sighed. "I guess we both need a little excitement then?" She nodded without looking up before she decided to change subject.

"So what is it exactly that they're having you do?" She reached around him and pulled the stack of envelopes closest to her before looking through them a bit.

"Well, for starters, I'm just copying what's on these papers and typing it into the computer." He opened a file containing at least two dozen saved sub-folders. "I'm almost done with it though. This is my last one. But after this I have to input a list of fingerprints into the database." He pointed to a disk sitting by the modem.

"Jeez, well that's no fun at all. Guess I'll just have to stick around and help out." She grinned up at him causing his face to flush.

"Y-you really don't have to do that Satou-san..."

She perked an eyebrow at him. "Eh? You saying you don't want my company?" She crossed her arms and stuck her head up childishly.

"Not at all!" He swore if his face was to get any redder he might be mistaken for a strawberry. "It's just..."

"It's just nothing." She cut him off. "Now let's get this done." She picked up the file he was copying and began to read it off to him as he typed.

-1.5 hour time laps-

Satou and Takagi slumped over on the desk, having given up for the day. The pile of files and papers was now organized into a tidy stack with a sticky note stuck to the top, saying "Filed". They had begun to work on the CD of fingerprints but there seemed to be no end to the list. Who knew CDs could hold so much information?

"Uggggg. No more." Satou grumbled. "It's already dark outside." She checked her watch. "Ah! No wonder. We've been working on this for one and a half hours. Sheesh! Let's call it quits for the night. 'Kay?"

"Satou-saaan. But we've almost done 100. We're at 99. Let's just get to 100, then we can stop." Satou gave him an irritated look. "Ahaha. I just like to stop on an even, round number is all." He turned back to his monitor and scrolled down a bit.

"Eh?" He clicked on the next name and up came a picture and a name that read Edogawa Conan. Satou peeked over his shoulder.

"Hmm? What's Conan been up to, I wonder." She gave a small laugh.

"I think Megure or someone decided to add him because he's been involved in a lot of cases recently. They just took his fingerprints from one of the times they used them to figure out which ones were his. You know, he touches some of the evidence sometimes." As ironic as that sounded, it was true. Sometimes he touched stuff before he found out it was evidence.

Takagi imported the fingerprint scans into the data base. Up popped a window that read /Synching data.../. This thing came up for each and every file they added so they never paid much attention to it. That is to say until it came back with an error saying ERROR: Print already in data base. View file? [Yes] [No].

Both sat up straight, taken in by the sudden change in their routine.

"Do you think someone already put his prints into the system?" Takagi moved the mouse over the 'Yes' button before clicking it. It took at least 5 seconds before the pair nearly fell off the edge of their seats. Really. It was impossible, right?

The file, which should have been Edogawa Conan's, was that of Kudou Shinichi.

The two exchanged a glance before exchanging each others' thoughts.

"He couldn't."

"There's no way."

"Maybe someone made a mistake?"

"But fingerprints don't lie."

"But still..."

"This is beginning to sound like something out of a manga."

"It certainly does seem like it. But it has to be true, right?"

"..."

"If it is true... then that means... that Conan-kun and Kudou-kun... are the same person."

There were about thirty seconds of silence between them before Satou broke it.

"I'm... going to call Ran-san." She pulled out her phone.

"Eh?"

Ran paced holes in the carpet of their apartment's living room. At a time like this, it was perfectly acceptable for her to be angry. No. Cross that. Pissed. She had been lied to for so long now and just as soon as she gets close to some answers to her questions, it slips from under her grasp. Typical. But it could be worse right? I mean, she could just be back to square one with no proof, just her crazy theory thought up by her overactive imagination.

She stopped abruptly and clenched her fist, a fiery determined look behind her eyes. No way would she let her chance go this time. She was determined to hound this one out until she could no longer keep herself upright. That's it. She walked over to the door, removing her slippers and putting on her boots and coat. She didn't care if that 'girl' was sleeping or not, she was going to be her wake up call. Ran slammed the door shut causing a picture or two to fall over from the shock, as well as a drunken Mouri improperly propped up on the table.

It took her about 15 minutes to get back over to the hospital, with the added 15 it took for her to get home last time plus her thinking time, she was pretty sure that was long enough for the 'girl' to sleep.

Checking in with the nurse at the front first, she made her way up to the room. Ran put her ear to the door but heard nothing. Not even the heart monitor was making noise. A bit worried, she slowly slid the door open and peeked inside. Her whole body went rigid at the sight of empty sheets marked with slight traces of blood droplets. 'Blood? But I thought they sealed the wound?'

Ran's heart nearly stopped at her cell phone vibrating in her pocket. She gingerly pulled it out and placed it to her ear.

"H-hello?" She couldn't help but notice how wavery her voice sounded.

"Hi there, Ran-chan." came the voice from the other side of the device.

"S-Satou-keiji?!" She wasn't the most expected person to be hearing from at the moment. "What is it?"

"I think we need to... talk." Her voice was hard and cool, much like when she's on the job.

"Uhhh, ok." Ran was a bit taken aback.

"And it can't be on the phone. We have to talk in person. Where are you right now?" 'Right now?' This brought her back to the current situation.

"That's right! She's gone!" Ran unknowingly spoke her thoughts aloud, earning an obvious 'who?' in response from the police officer. "Oh! Uhhh erm n-nothing! Never mind. Oh, but right now I'm at Beika Hospital."

"Eh? What are you doing at the hospital?" Satou sounded a bit worried.

"Oh! Don't worry! I'm not hurt or anything. I came to see... Conan-kun's friend who was injured." Now that she knew it was all a facade, the use of that name gave her a rather unsettling feeling.

"Oh? Really? Which one? What happened?"

"Errr. I can tell you about it when we talk. Do you want to meet me somewhere? Or..." She shuffled her foot, feeling a bit like it would be a bad idea to get distracted right in the middle of her search for answers.

"Well, we're actually driving right now. We can come pick you up in about," there was a pause as she thought for a moment, "Five minutes, give or take a couple."

"'We?'"

"Yeah, Takagi is with me. But anyways, we'll be there in a few so meet us in the lobby. We can talk there." They said their goodbyes and Ran slipped the phone back into her pocket. She gave one sidelong glance at the untidy cold sheets before closing the door behind her. It was obvious that she wasn't there anymore, but where else could she have gone? Did she leave herself? Or was she taken? How could she even move in that condition? What if she was just putting up an act? Ran rubbed her head in frustration. Again! She had just too many questions running through her head.

This is probably why she would never be a very good detective. She just came up with more questions than she could answer herself, and then expected someone else to answer them for her. If it was /him/, he would be able to figure out everything in a short amount of time.

She checked her wrist watch before heading down to the lobby. Maybe she could ask detectives Satou-san and Takagi-san about this. Seeing as they were police officers, they should be able to help.

Ran sat down in a chair by the front doors but didn't have to wait long until the pair walked in with serious, and slightly nervous, expressions set on their faces.

They joined her in the two chairs placed in front of her own. There was a moment of silence between them before Satou decided to break the slight air of tension.

"We... found something." She began, getting straight to the point. Ran quirked an eyebrow.

"Found something? What are you talking about?" She cocked her head to the side, utterly confused. "You make it sound like you found the Missing Link or something." She laughed nervously.

Takagi and Satou exchanged looks. "Well, in a way, I guess we did find something like that." Takagi scratched his head. "Uhh... how to put this..."

"How much do you know about Conan-kun?" Satou interrupted. Ran felt her chest tighten and her ears rang for a moment, before her pounding heart brought noise back to her senses. 'What are they talking about? What is it they found? Could it be...'

She tried to open her mouth but found her voice would not come out. Too nervous to do anything else, she guiltily looked to the side at nothing in particular.

If it wasn't for the fact that she was experienced in reading body language, the strange behavior's meaning may have gotten past her radar. Satou's eyes narrowed. 'She knows something...'

Takagi cleared his throat, looking back to Satou, who nodded in response.

"Ran-chan. If you know something... if you know, we need to know." She leaned forward, closing some of the distance between them. She stayed silent. "It's important. This might cause some trouble." That finally got a response out of the girl.

"I-it was an accident." she mumbled nervously. "I didn't mean to find out... but I needed to know. And then I got the evidence I needed and even someone to answer my questions. But now she's gone! And I don't even know if she left herself or was taken away and this is all just so confusing." Her voice was slowly hastening and increasing in volume. Tears were also visible bubbling their way up in her eyes.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Calm down, Ran-chan. Who is this you're talking about? Who's gone?" Satou was now crouched in front of her with her hand on her shoulder. She allowed Ran to regain some sense before having her answer the question.

"A-Ai-chan. His friend. She was the one who was in the hospital but now she's gone! Earlier I came to talk to her, to ask her about what I found... she seemed hesitant, but she didn't deny it! So when I came back just a little while ago to talk to her again, her bed was empty and there were a few blood stains on it!" Satou looked back at Takagi, who seemed quite on high alert. She took a look around to make sure there were no unwanted pests eavesdropping in on their conversation. If what Ran said was true, there could be a possibility that there were some unfriendly characters still hanging around.

"So, do the doctors know where she went?"

Ran looked up, a little embarrassed. "I didn't ask anyone. But I still don't think that's the case. She was supposed to be asleep in her room at the time..." Her voice quivered.

"Well, let's assume she left, herself, for whatever reason. Where would she go?" Satou changed the subject. Ran tilted her head up in thought.

"I'm not sure. If I were her, I would probably go somewhere safe. Somewhere where I knew there wouldn't be people to question me. I'd go... home." Her eyes widened as she looked at Satou. "That's it! She must have gone back to Agasa-hakase's!" Satou smiled and nodded.

"Then shall we?" She reached a hand out to help her up. Just before they went out the automatic sliding doors, Ran felt a shiver go down her spine and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She whirled around, her eyes darting about, scanning the area for the source of negative energy.

"Ran-chan? Something wrong?" Satou turned back to her. Still not completely convinced, she shook her head.

"No, it's fine. Let's go."

As they pulled up to the humble professor's house, Ran noticed something strange straight away.

"Hmmm? Hakase's beetle isn't here. I know he said he wasn't going anywhere today. Wonder where he is…"

They exited Satou's red sports car and made their way up the walkway to the front door.

"Ah! Look here, by the door step." Takagi pointed down to something. Said-thing was a small, and still wet, splatter of blood. "It seems we might have guessed right."

Cautiously, Ran pushed the already slightly ajar door open and squinted into the darkness of the room. Whoever had come in in such a hurry took the time to close all the shades and curtains as well as turn off all the lights.

"Ai-chan?" Ran called out into the dark abyss. "Are you here?" There was a long and bottomless silence. The three exchanged skeptical glances. Again, Ran opened her mouth to call out, but was interrupted.

"Who's there?" A deeper but still recognizable voice came from the stairs leading down to Haibara's room.

"Ai-chan? Is that you?" Ran said, a bit relieved. But that relief was short lived. The character, presumed to be Ai, gave a mock laugh.

"That child is no longer here." There was an icy dark sense of humor in her voice. Ran's face paled.

"Then… you're not Ai-chan?" Ran said a bit uneasily. Again it earned her another laugh, this one had an air of sarcasm to it.

"Oh course, because I didn't just say that."

"If you're not the girl, then who are you and what are you doing in this house?" Satou spoke up, her tone rigid and direct.

"Ah. Who am I, indeed…" a light footfall thumped up the steps pausing just at the top and giving them a blurry outline of an adult figure. They could also hear the haggard breathing indicating she wasn't in the best condition. Satou and Takagi made a move for their guns but stopped abruptly when the mystery figure held up one of her own.

"Don't even try it. We wouldn't want any trouble now would we?" A click indicated the safety had been turned off. As the figure drew closer, Ran, standing the closest to her, moved into a defensive karate pose.

"As for you, don't try that karate here. My reflexes are quite deadly with a firearm."

"What do you want?" Ran asked as calmly as she could.

"Why do people always ask that? Has it occurred to you that maybe not all criminals want something in return? But, if you want it that way, I guess I have no other choice." She took a few more steps, closing the gap between Ran and herself, but still staying out of arms' (or legs') reach of her. "Red? Or White?" She smirked evilly.

Puzzled, Ran didn't know what to say.

"Just pick one." The person was growing impatient.

"Er… red?" Ran really had no idea what was going on but decided to play along and chose her favorite color. Once again, there was a laugh, though it was much more like an evil chuckle, from the person.

"Wrong."

BANG

Ran, as well as Takagi and Satou, nearly had a heart attack. She would have sworn she saw Shinichi flash before her eyes.

The person still had the gun pointed at her, and she had fired it, but sprouting from the end was a bouquet of white roses.

"Wrong." She repeated. "They're white." Ran, Satou, and Takagi all nearly deadpanned.

"W-what the hell was-" Ran was cut off when the light switch flipped on unexpectedly, causing them to jump. Agasa was standing in the doorway, a grocery bag in one of his hands, the other still positioned over the switch.

"Er… what exactly is going on?" His eyes went from the police officers to Ran and then to the other woman. Squinting his eyes, he studied the unfamiliar character over a few times before they snapped open in shock and realization. "Y-you're-!"

The attention was once again brought back to the uninvited house guest. Now in the light, Ran could get a good look at her. She was roughly the same height as her but she had her hair cut much shorter and it was also a light cherry brown color. She wore a simple pair of black jeans and a maroon top with a black, long sleeved shrug over it. Now that she thought about it, she did resemble… Ai-chan… A LOT.

Haibara pulled the flowers out from the end of the gun. Walking over to the coffee table she placed them in a small flower vase before looking over her shoulder.

"Welcome home, professor," she said with what would be best described as a demonically pleased smile.

Yo! I finally got this one out peeps :3 Thanks to my friend hallow777 for getting me back in the mood ;3 Good luck moving! Hope it's a nice big house X3

Anyways, I have been suffering from a bad case of writers' block for the past 2 months, which would explain the lack of updates. For those who read Kindred, I'm still kinda stuck for plot so if anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them :D Maybe I'll even use them, but I already have an ending in mind so only if it doesn't conflict with it.

I was thinking of leaving you guys with the end of this chapter being the BANG, but I was nice and gave you a little more X3

THANKS ONCE AGAIN TO MY SUPER DUPER AWESOME FRIEND Hela Kaede FOR EDITING MY STORY! CHECK OUT HER DETECTIVE CONAN FANFICS AS WELL!

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